Lazam Type Necklace

Unknown Maker

Necklace with five squared plates with six rows of silver beads between each, three pendants hanging from three central plates; on central pendant two coins: two Annas, India 1887/1888/Victoria Empress.
Silversmithing was among the earliest traditions of Jewish settlers in Yemen and silversmithing remained a Jewish domain in Yemen well into the twentieth century. Jewish Yemenite silversmiths were known for their delicacy and precision as well as their understanding of the meaning of the many motifs and magical connotation, and they were well versed in the connections of these symbols to biblical and kabalistic texts. Since jewelry was a major element in the dowries and personal possessions of Jewish and Muslim women in towns as well as in rural areas, Jewish silversmiths worked for a variety of audiences. In addition to the symbolic or magical significance of the jewelry in Yemen, and in addition to the basic decorative function, jewelry also demonstrated the wearer's social, marital, and economic status. Regional differences are also evident from the jewelry.
From as early as 1882 Yemenite Jews began to immigrate to Palestine. Yemenite Jewish immigration to Israel reached a peak directly after the establishment of the State of Israel. Indeed, in 1948 Imam Ahmed came to power and eased restrictions on emigration. Immediately about 50,000 Jews immigrated to Israel in a massive operation called "On Eagles' Wings", a name derived from Isaiah 40:31, which speaks of the biblical prophecy of a return to Zion.
Much of the Yemenite jewelry in the Spertus collection was bought by Maurice Spertus from Yemenite new-arrivals to Israel. The curatorial challenge they pose is that while they may have been owned by Yemenite Jews, there is nothing intrinsically Jewish about them. While they are in keeping with the acquisition policies of other American Jewish museums, we wonder on one hand whether the fact that an item of clothing, such as a contemporary wedding dress or a piece of Jewelry, should be held by a Jewish museum simply because it was owned by Jews. On the other hand, jewelry such as these items are some of the only remaining items owned by the vanishing Jewish community in Yemen.

Name: Lazam Type Necklace
Artist: Unknown Maker
Origin: Yemen, 20th century
Medium: Silver
Dimensions: 8 in. x 9 in.
Credit: Gift of Georgette Grosz Spertus from the Maurice Spertus Collection
Catalog Number: Unfiled